Feingold v. Johnson on Social Security
Has Ron Johnson run the best ad campaign of 2010?
4:49 PM, Oct 13, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Wisconsin's junior Democratic senator Russ Feingold is out with a new ad attacking his Republican opponent Ron Johnson for keeping "privatization" of Social Security for "some" voters on the table. Feingold's position? In the ad, he literally takes everything off the table and promises not to "turn any part of Social Security over to Wall Street."
Johnson preemptively responded to Feingold one month ago in an ad that ought to be titled: Heck yes I called Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme'--and I'll say it to your face.
Rather than taking the Sharron Angle tack of "I never said that," Johnson owns up to calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme"--not exactly the most damaging admission considering the fact that people don't know what a Ponzi scheme is--and then pivots to say that he'll fight to "keep every nickel of Social Security for retirees." That's true. Johnson is committed to keeping benefits for current retirees. He's open to reforms for those years from retirement, but he hasn't specifically signed on to all of the reforms Paul Ryan calls for in his fiscal "Roadmap" (speaking of which, see Ryan's latest "Social Security & The Draconian Do-Nothing Plan").
At any rate, Johnson's ad seems like a pretty effective pre-buttal. In fact, Johnson may have run the best ad campaign of 2010. He earned high praise from the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza for this ad, in which Johnson explains with a whiteboard and a marker that while there are 57 lawyers in the Senate, he'd be the only manufacturer. Johnson also cut a fairly humorous, quintessentially Wisconsinite, soft-focus ad introducing his family. The ads are effective because Johnson is personable and direct, much as he is in real life.
Again, rather than running from the use of the phrase "creative destruction" after being attacked by Feingold, Johnson bluntly explained that the phrase is a "plain economic term":
See also this pithy response from Johnson during a debate with Feingold:
The success of the Johnson campaign is a reminder than when you have a good candidate, it's easy to produce good ads.
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